5th November. What does this date bring to mind for you? I bet some of you have been perusing the pages of a certain mailer, deliberating over which fireworks package to purchase for Family fireworks night? I imagine that for many people if they associate anything with this date it is most Guy Fawkes, who was one of the plotters and would-be perpetrators of that unsuccessful attempt at regicide in Britain on 5 November 1605 – The Gunpowder plot.
What you may not be aware of, is that 5 November is actually a significant date in our own history here in Aotearoa. 5 November 1881 saw the armed invasion of the settlement of Parihaka in Taranaki.
The community at Parihaka grew following the land wars and as a result of the “confiscation” of land (often enabled legally through the Government passing legislation) in the Taranaki area. In addition to the continuing land grab, the government of the time also failed to set aside the reserve land it had promised to the local peoples. In response to this, the citizens of Parihaka lead by the prophets, Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi established a movement of peaceful resistance to protest the actions of the Crown. Government officials feared that Parihaka might well incite more iwi to rebel against Government policies and set about destroying the peaceful resistance movement by means of an armed invasion and the destruction of the settlement of Parihaka.
It is said that on the day of the invasion the soldiers were greeted by singing children (tātarakihi) and the followers of Te Whiti and Tohu put up no resistance. Many of the men involved in the peaceful resistance movement were detained- some were imprisoned for years without trial and were transported to prisons in the South Island or sentenced to hard manual labour in places like Dunedin, where they built many of the buildings and roads. Some of them would perish here from tuberculosis, thought to be caused by their incarceration in caves around what is now the Bay Roads.
So there we go, a brief look at significant date in our national history. Interested in learning more? We have a great page of resources if you’re interested in reading more.
Stuck for something to do this weekend and thinking you would like to learn more about the history of events that took place at Parihaka? This weekend in Christchurch there are screenings of the film Tātarakihi , The children of Parihaka. A true story of war passive resistance and the children who never forgot. This film has been part of the New Zealand International Film Festival and has received rave reviews. The website will take you through to local screening times and venues and you can view a trailer of the film as well. I intend to get to the Sunday screening.
No doubt we will still celebrate Mr Fawkes trying to kill his King at my place this weekend, but I think I will also look a little closer to home and remember the events of 5/11/1881 in Parihaka, Taranaki come Monday. Will you be doing anything to commemorate the 5th of November?